TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick (pictured below) has penned a tribute to late SLAYER axeman Jeff Hanneman, who passed away on Thursday (May 2) from liver failure at the age of 49.
"Jeff had a subtle sense of humor that was all his own, and though he was a bit more reserved than the rest of the SLAYER camp, he viewed life as a party to be enjoyed to its fullest," Skolnick writes at PremierGuitar.com. "Much of what Jeff's loved ones and fans appreciated about him was his steadfast and genuine style — the fact that he didn't stray from his own vision. In Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman's 'Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History Of Metal', Jeff is quoted, 'I tried to emulate what [well-known shredders] did and really grow as a guitarist. Then I said, 'I don't think I'm that talented, but more important, I don't care.'' But as legions of dedicated SLAYER fans the world over would attest, Jeff's portrayal of himself as marginally talented is completely inaccurate. A more apt description could be summed up in one word, 'immense.'
"What separated Jeff from the rest of the metal pack was his rhythm technique, his songwriting, and that for which he will be most remembered — his riffs. But his frenzied, turbulent solos were also an important part of the package. They weren't about showing off. They served a greater artistic purpose — to sonically channel the qualities of SLAYER's lyrical content. They were sometimes abrasive, sometimes jarring, and at times disturbing. They had less in common with typical rock-guitar virtuosos than they did with the sonic collages of avant-garde improvisers such as Derek Bailey and John Zorn, the latter of whom is a self-professed SLAYER fan who has cited the band as an inspiration. Though Jeff's wider, more holistic guitar approach didn't garner the same accolades as some of his more technically proficient contemporaries, Jeff never waivered from his original approach. And the fact that he continued to attack his guitar with relentless abandon — as though he were a linebacker on his beloved Oakland Raiders (whose logo adorned some of his signature ESP guitars) — is without a doubt a big part of why SLAYER's music will always be deemed one of metal's high watermarks."
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